Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October in the Arizona desert means one thing...

October in the Arizona Sonoran Desert means its time to start planting the fall/winter garden.  Here we are able to grow things productively 12 months of the year.  October through May its easiest to garden, then June though September gets pretty difficult with our intense sun and heat.  But starting this month I will be planting two different gardens, one in the biology departments garden area and a second at my home.  The Phoenix College biology garden will be approximately 150 sq. ft. and my home garden 100 sq. ft.  In order to make this more of a "scientific" garden observations of plant growth and health will be made on a weekly basis and produce will be quantified.  I want to see how many pounds of food can be produced from these plots of land and then determine the value of this food in dollars.  This is a project that anyone can do, by making it as large or as small as they want or need to.  This can be done at a large scale like we will be doing here or even to the small scale of a single potted plant.  The key to make this work as a scientific activity is to record observations and quantify some aspect of the plants.  We will be keeping a garden journal to record progress, failures, and results.  Later quantified results will be posted on this blog.

This is the Phoenix College Biology Dept. garden area.  
150 sq. ft. of the above plot will be used in this project.

The great thing about any gardening project for the student is that it is extremely flexible.  Projects can be as large or small or simple or complicated as fits the needs of the students.  The amount of scientific knowledge that can be derived from gardening is extremely underrated.  In order for the student to learn the most from their gardening experience the right questions must be asked and the right observations made.  This means planning ahead.  Don't just plant a bunch of seeds and see what happens, plant those seed with a purpose and plan to answer some question.  In my project the question simply is, "how many pounds of food can I grow and what is the value of that food?"  Other questions may involve different fertilizers or soils, comparing hybrid crops to heirloom, or different planting techniques.  Check back in the coming moths to see the results of our gardening experiment.

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